Arthritis is a word that literally means ‘inflamed joint’. And although it is often referred to as a single disease, it actually encompasses more than 100 different medical conditions that affect the joints where two or more bones meet.

 

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis, affecting 1.8 million (around 8%) people in Australia.

 

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition

 

– essentially a ‘wearing out’ of the cushion-like cartilage that protects the ends of bones within moving joints. As cartilage deteriorates, the

 

bone surfaces which were previously protected start to rub together. The bones gradually lose their normal shape, becoming rough or uneven, and sometimes develop bony spurs around the edge of a joint.

 

Osteoarthritis tends to come on slowly, over months or even years. And it usually gets worse over time. Osteoarthritis can develop at any age but tends to be more common in overweight people aged over 40 years or those who have had joint injuries.

 

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint but occurs most often in the knees, hips, and hands.

 

The symptoms vary from person to person, and of course depend on which of your joints are affected. Common symptoms in the affected joints may include:

 

•Pain

 

  • Stiffness or restricted movement

 

  • Swelling, inflammation or joint enlargement

 

Initially, these sensations are occur with activity, but can become more constant as the disease progresses. The symptoms may even affect your ability to do normal daily activities, such as walking, climbing stairs and preparing food. Other symptoms may include clicking noises, grating sensations, or a loss of flexibility in a joint.

 

What Causes Osteoarthritis?

 

It is widely assumed that arthritis is simply a consequence of age, the pain of growing old. And yes, it is increasingly common with age. But it is not a natural part of ageing.

 

Research shows that being overweight or obese puts you at greater risk of developing osteoarthritis. Excess weight places additional strain on your joints, especially in the hips and knees.

 

Previous injuries to a joint also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the future. Take care not to overwork painful, damaged joint, and minimise repetitive joint movements.

 

You can also blame your mum or dad – if you have a family history you are more prone to osteoarthritis.

 

How Can I Fix It?

 

Lifestyle tips for joint pain

 

Here are some tips to help make life a little easier:

 

  • Learn about osteoarthritis and be involved in your treatment and pain management to help you take control of your symptoms. Find out about equipment that can help make daily tasks easier.

 

  • Stay active People with osteoarthritis who exercise regularly have less pain, more energy, improved sleep, and better day-to-day function. It may not get rid of the pain entirely, but it can certainly keep your joints and muscles healthy and flexible. So get those stiff joints moving to improve your life! Try swimming in a heated pool – it is both great exercise and soothing to aching joints. You may also find it useful to see a physiotherapist or exercise physiologist for advice.

 

  • Follow a healthy diet – your food should not only be nutritious, but also help maintain your weight in your ideal range.

 

  • Hot or cold packs can often help relieve pain. Cold can help reduce swelling, numb pain and is especially good for inflammation. Heat may help improve blood flow, relax stiff joints and improve flexibility. You may find one or the other works better for you. Always take care not to overdo either extreme.

 

  • Maintain a positive attitude, and Seek support. Many people with arthritis feel scared, frustrated, or sad. However, the outlook for most people with osteoarthritis is positive, with manageable symptoms. Be aware of your feelings and get help if they start affecting your life.

 

Medical Treatments

 

Unfortunately, there is no cure for osteoarthritis, but there are treatments that can effectively control your symptoms, manage your pain, and improve your quality of life.

 

Treatments for osteoarthritis vary depending on which joints are affected and the

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NORMAL AND ARTHITIC JOINTS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

severity of your condition. There is no way of predicting exactly which treatment will work best for you. Generally, treatment usually includes:

 

  • a weight loss program, if you are overweight

 

  • physical therapy – an exercise program tailored to your condition and ability

 

  • pain relief – guidelines recommend using paracetamol as a first line therapy, but your doctor may also recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)

 

  • medical devices such as braces, walking sticks, and insoles

 

  • joint replacement surgery – usually only an option if other, less invasive treatments have not adequately controlled your symptoms

 

Natural remedies

 

There are a range of natural medicines and supplements that claim to help arthritic pain. But many are not backed up by research – and it can be very confusing to decide what is best for you.

 

There is some scientific evidence to support the use of

 

•Glucosamine sulfate – this may help to reduce pain and slow cartilage breakdown

 

•Chondroitin – may repair damaged cartilage and slow cartilage breakdown •Omega 3 – fish and krill* oils – these may reduce inflammation from arthritis and

 

may help to relieve joint pain and stiffness and improve function.* The predicted benefits of krill oil are not clinically proven, instead they been extrapolated

 

Speakfrom studiestoyouronpharmacistfishoilbased onat anyourequivalentlocal Directdoseof omegaChemist-3. Outlet for advice and treatment options to manage your symptoms. And of course, if pain is severe, persistent, worsening or affecting your daily functioning, please see your doctor.

 

For more information, go to www.myjointpain.org.au or www. arthritisaustralia.com.au or phone 1800 011 041.

 

* The predicted benefits of krill oil are not clinically proven, instead they been extrapolated from studies on fish oil based on an equivalent dose of omega-3.


DISCLAIMER: This material contains general information about medical conditions and treatments and is intended for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical or professional advice, nor should it be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating any illness. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your local pharmacist or health care provider to obtain professional advice relevant to your specific circumstances.